WAUWATOSA — Tuesday marks the first day in about a year students at Wauwatosa East will be in classrooms five days a week. This comes after parents shared frustrations that one in five students failed at least one class last semester while learning from home 60 percent of the time.
Wauwatosa middle and high school students are joining elementary schools Tuesday in returning to classrooms full time. Wauwatosa East junior LaDerrious Jones was surprised by how quickly the district's plans changed.
"It's just a lot of people are still on edge with it. We feel like we weren't asked on how we felt about it," Jones says.
Wauwatosa middle and high school students had been utilizing a hybrid learning model up until Tuesday - with two days a week in the classroom - and three days learning from home.
Kevin Michel is the father of four Wauwatosa students. Two weeks ago, he brought his concerns about virtual learning to President Joe Biden at a town hall event in Milwaukee.
Michel says he's ecstatic his kids will no longer have to learn through a computer screen.
"To have them back in school five days a week, learning with their peers and having that socialization I think is really important to me, and I know it's important to the president as well, and he definitely put a feather in my cap and said ‘yeah, let's get these kids back,’” Michel said.
Some parents say their students were struggling with distance learning. District data shows 18 percent of middle and high school students failed a class last semester - that's nearly twice the amount compared to a year prior.
"I can definitely see how kids are falling behind. Not because they choose to, just because of how it is,” Michel said.
Waukesha parent Joseph Lyman says the problem is even worse at high schools in his district, where 28 percent of students failed at least one class under the hybrid learning model.
"It is time to tear down the facade that the school district is faring far better than it actually is,” said Lyman.
Back in Wauwatosa, district leaders believe it is now safe to return to full-time, in-person instruction. The district's COVID-19 dashboard shows less than five students and zero staff members have confirmed cases.
Wauwatosa students are required to wear masks, wash their hands and follow social distancing protocols to limit the spread. The district says it has also updated its H-VAC systems to keep students and faculty safe as well.